Solemn vigil held for boy critically wounded in Minneapolis shooting

Sharing quiet sympathy and tears, a few dozen people gathered Saturday on the lawn outside a hospital in a vigil for a young boy shot Friday night in Minneapolis.

Ladavionne Garrett Jr. was shot while riding in a vehicle by someone outside the vehicle in the 3400 block of N. Morgan Avenue. The vehicle driver took him to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale, where he was reported in "very critical condition," police said Friday.

Ladavionne was the second child in a week injured by gunfire. On Monday, an infant suffered bullet fragment injuries to his hands in a shooting that also wounded two adults. The victims in that shooting were also in a car that was shot into.

On the lawn outside North Memorial, family and friends clustered supportively around the boy's parents, Ladavionne Garrett Sr. and Dorice Jackson, as they hugged tightly and cried. Someone said a soft prayer.

A siren sounded in the distance. A few people glanced up with concern, but no emergency vehicle appeared and the siren faded.

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Among those attending Saturday's vigil was LaTrisha Vetaw, who lives near the hospital. The night before, she had heard "a commotion" at the hospital and walked over to talk to the family, she said.

Vetaw, vice president of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and a candidate for City Council, said she was thinking about an harrowing incident that occurred when she was 15 years old.

She was sitting on a bed next to her 9-year-old cousin when a bullet coming from outside the house struck her cousin and shot the girl's eye out.

"We all are touched by this," Vetaw said "I feel like it could be anybody's baby."

That's why Lisa Clemons was at the vigil, along with several other members of A Mothers Love Initiative. Clemons founded the Minneapolis group to support Black families who experience gun violence and other trauma.

"We're already on the track right now for Murderapolis," she said, referencing the grim nickname the city acquired in the mid-1990s during a surge of violence. Clemons was a police officer during those years.

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Minneapolis has experienced 24 homicides this year through the end of April. If that pace continues, the city is on track to potentially break its record of 97 murders in 1995. There were 84 murders in 2020, said police spokesman John Elder, a sharp leap from the 48 killed in 2019.

In St. Paul, there have been 12 homicides this year. There were 34 in all of 2020, which tied the record set in 1992.

Although elected officials and members of the public recently have focused on Black people shot by white police officers, Clemons said, they must also work to save Black people from being shot by other Black people.

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"Your responsibility is to save lives — period," Clemons said. "How many of our kids gotta get shot or killed before this becomes the priority?"

What needs to happen, she said, is what she recalls happening in the 1990s: community members, clergy and police worked together, "putting their differences aside to address the problems." She also wants city, county, state and federal funds used to support programs "to keep our people out of prisons, out of graves."

Echoing Clemons' sentiments was City Council member Phllippe Cunningham, who also attended the vigil. He later posted comments on Twitter urging community cooperation.

"Every shooting is an unacceptable tragedy, and it is particularly devastating when children are caught in the crossfire of gun violence," Cunningham wrote. "It's going to take all of us — we need all hands on deck. Law enforcement collaborating with social service providers and community members. We need the surveillance and intelligence to find the most active group and gang members to interrupt the cycle of violence and identify who is bringing guns into our community and stop them."

"If folks won't take the support offered to them and refuse to put the guns down, then they must be held accountable," he wrote

Katy Read • 612-673-4583

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